Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

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Meat, potatoes and Kimchee…  

That’s right.  I used to make this dinner like three times a week.  I had a good deer supply at the time and I had grown a bumper crop of potatoes that were delicious.  At the store I would get an all natural Kimchee brand with some ladies face on it.  I really can’t remember her name but her Kimchee was delicious.  Just cabbage, ginger, garlic, hot peppers, sea salt, water and time, not the herb.  It is a partially fermented food and is a digestive aid and general immune/well being booster that rules with deer meat and potatoes.  There is something about this combination that just fits perfectly.  I like to either sear or grill my meat rare to medium rare.  I usually use olive oil or butter, though pig fat, bear fat, or coconut oil will do fine.  I lightly season it with sea salt and maybe some dried herbs and maybe a little lemon fresh squeezed, lightly, over it.  I cook the meat last as the potatoes are finishing.  And deer meat isn’t necessary, use what you got, what you like and get high quality, well treated animals if you can.  Wild seems the best to me as the animal was a free being.  We all go in the end, eat with some awareness. For potatoes I do this.  I cut them into small pieces.  I get an iron pan hot and add a decent amount of olive oil, or any of the other before mentioned fats.  I throw my potatoes in as they get cut.  By the time I have them all in it is usually time for the first “flipping.”  They should be getting golden brown by this time.  I then let them sit again for a while until they get a bit browned.  I usually add some more oil in the middle of the time and sometimes I lower the flame just a bit though I do like to keep it relatively high.  It takes some time for them all to get cooked, depending on how many you decided to make.  I lightly season them as well with an herb or two of your choice and sea salt to liking.  Once they are 3/4’s done I heat a pan for the meat.  Cook it right and not too long!  I prefer more tender cuts for this, deer loin is perfect, though a butt steak will work fine too, especially if from a younger animal.  Once both are ready I turn off the flames and get my plates.  In the picture I have them in three little piles, the potatoes, the kimchee and the meat.  It is also good to put the potatoes down first, then the meat and then some kimchee on top of that.  The real deliciousness of this meal is the combination of flavors that come through once they have all melded.  It is divine.  Kimchee is also very easy to produce on your own and always better homemade especially if done with the highest quality, fresh ingredients.  I’ve done another article on pickling jalapenos and the process is very similar for kimchee though you use different vegetal ingredients.  I thought a restaurant that served variations on Meat, Kimchee and Potatoes would be a great success, or even a food truck.  Give it a try and let me know what your thoughts are.  I have become an avid fan!  Bon Apetit.

lion's mane mushroom

photo by Helen Geisler

Have you ever stumbled upon this strange looking fungus in the woods?  I remember the first time I saw it.  It was so unique and thought provoking that I spent about ten minutes with it not realizing at the time that it was a choice find.  I knew no better then. To this day I still feel a bit silly for my ignorance.  That one I saw all those years ago was lucky to get away!  The Lion’s Mane is a SCORE!

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The proud author with a super fresh and sizable find!
photo by Helen Geisler

I like to call this fungus the Seafood of the Forest because of it’s delicious oceanic flavor.  This interesting looking mushroom, when prepared correctly and sauteed in a hot pan is a lot like fresh scallops!  I recently brought one to the restaurant where I work and gave some to my friend’s who own the place.  I’ve brought them mushrooms before, but upon looking at this “creature” they both seemed a bit skeptical.  I reassured them.  Once prepared and eaten they couldn’t believe their taste buds, high marks all around.

These wonderful “mushrooms” are medicinal and have been used for millenia in the East and who knows for how long here in the Americas.  I’m sure the Indians could have told us plenty about them.  The Lion’s Mane is said to be good for memory and nerve damage in the brain, amongst other things,  which is  especially poignant in this age of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia. Drop the pharmaceuticals people, look to the Earth!  She has all we need and it’s fun to go get it!  This incredible fungus is delicious and good for you!  To think that for all these years people have said health food doesn’t taste good!  What a joke.

When you find a Lion’s Mane check how fresh it is.  Sometimes they will be yellowy or brown around the edges or full of water if it has been raining.  If you are lucky it will be prime.  Either way it is worth taking with you.  I have, on rare occasions, not taken one because it was too old and weathered, but that is rare.  If it is wet bring it home and slice it into steak size pieces.  You can then use towels to absorb excess moisture by pushing down on the pieces you have cut.   After that put them in the fridge on a plate and let them sit for a couple hours.  I have found them frozen on trees and it doesn’t seem to effect them poorly.  They do like hardwoods and especially the Beech trees which are majestic, a smooth grey and have a bark that resembles elephant skin.  The Lion’s Mane, like most things, grows to different sizes and sure, bigger is better!  More to eat.  This fungus has no poisonous look alike.   I have found them  hand sized and I have found them, one this year, about the size of my head (see photo.)  They are easy to prepare and stay fresh for a considerable amount of time in the refrigerator or outside in mild to cool temperatures.

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Looks like a brain and is good for your brain!
photo by Helen Geisler

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Golden brown and ready to eat!
photo by Helen Geisler

I like to cook these mushrooms as I would seafood or scallops.  Simply.  Use olive oil or butter and get your pan hot.  Slice your mushroom into half an inch thick steaks. Lay your slices in the pan and let them cook until they are a light golden brown.  Use some sea salt, pepper and maybe an herb you like to season them.  Once done take them out, set them aside and give them a try.  They are phenomenal!  My kids love them too!  You can use these mushrooms in other dishes as well.  They easily serve as the meat of an entree you are preparing or are perfect as a gourmet appetizer by themselves.  Lion’s Mane are versatile and their flavor holds up well with sauces.  My first choice is to eat them on their own, simply cooked!  These are one of my favorite fungi.  The season to find them is fall in the eastern woodlands here in Virginia.  I am told that they are found in all of North America, in temperate Asia and in Europe.  Keep your eyes open.  Some folks have said they have found them in spring as well, winter too.  I have spotted many while driving as they are a striking white and stand outwhen you do see them. They are unmistakable once you are upon them.  Lion’s Mane are magical, like most things in nature, and will make your day a special one indeed!  Bon apetit and happy hunting!

Author’s Note:   This mushroom is somewhat of an exception in that it has no look a likes at all, poisonous or otherwise and is regarded as safe. It is very important to follow the rule “when in doubt, throw it out!,” or, better yet, leave it alone!  It takes time to become an experienced forager so err on the side of caution when hunting.  It is good to reconnect with our food gathering roots, so do it wisely!